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Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014

The proportions of the head, and a standing nude


Creator: Leonardo da Vinci (Vinci 1452-Amboise 1519) (artist)
Creation Date: 
Materials and techniques: 
Metalpoint and pen and ink on blue-grey prepared paper
21.3 x 15.3 cm
RL 12601
P(L) 226
K&P 19
Acquirer: Charles II, King of Great Britain (1630-85)
Bequeathed to Francesco Melzi; from whose heirs purchased by Pompeo Leoni, c.1582-90; Thomas Howard, 2nd Earl of Arundel, by 1630; Probably acquired by Charles II; Royal Collection by 1690

A drawing of a nude man seen to below the waist, turned in profile to the left. His head is more finished and squared for proportion. There is also a note on the proportions of the head. To the right is a full-length figure of a nude man standing in profile to the left, and in the lower left corner is a seated child, of which only the head is clearly visible.

Leonardo's early proportional studies distinguish between the face (from the chin to the hairline) and the head as units of measurement. Here Leonardo placed the eye at the mid-point of the head, and divided the face into three equal sections, with divisions at the brow and the base of the nose. The drawing also demonstrates the belief that the head from front to back is equal to the height of the face, and thus a square is drawn over the profile.

Text adapted from 'Leonardo da Vinci: the Divine and the Grotesque'

Further details

Unframed Drawings / Watercolours